Thinking of a career in music? Whether you have creative skills or not, there is a whole laundry list of things you can do in the music industry, from being a performer to helping others become great performers.
One thing you need to know is that finding success comes down to more than having skills, talent, experience, or a high level of education. In fact, there are a few commonalities attached to achieving your definition of a successful career in music. Note that success is subjective but like any other career, there is a requirement for hard work, including recording songs with pro studios and connecting with the right people, as well as understanding (and practicing) these basic fundamentals to have a chance of "making it" in music.
Wondering what some of these basics are? Read on to find out:
Finding out what you were destined to be is one of the first steps to beginning your journey on a successful career in music. Too often, people go after a profession in music just to gain the prestige that it promises.
For example, wanting to be an artist because the flashy lifestyles of megastars seem attractive, or wanting to be a songwriter because of the potential to earn lifelong royalties from a couple of hit songs.
While there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, you should pursue a career based on what you’re passionate about. At the end of the day, your love for whatever path you choose is what will be the difference between whether you sink or swim when challenges come along – and they will. It will also help you to create your personal brand and be able to define it well enough so you stand out in the industry.
Once you’re sure about the career path you want to follow, be laser-focused on what you need to do to gain the success you’re looking for. It’s possible that you might get rejected from time to time, but don’t let that bug you too much. As pointed out by musician Adam Small, some of the biggest names in music faced major rejection early in their careers, but stuck it out because they were sure about what they wanted.
No matter what kind of music career you choose, whether you are after being the next Michael Jackson, or a topnotch music journalist, there will always be something new to learn that could enhance your skills. Watch videos and read books related to your field of work, take short certificate courses, go back to school if you have to.
Don’t have the money for school but have the desire? Until you’re able to save enough money to enroll in a class, you can find free online courses on portals such as Coursera, Udemy, and Alison, just to name a few, on almost any topic imaginable.
You don't even have to limit yourself to learning something music-related, you just need a thirst for knowledge and a drive to learn something new that could benefit you in the long run. Always looking out for new learning opportunities will help keep you sharp and up to date with changes in the industry that may affect how well you keep on doing your job.
The music business is one that thrives on relationships; that’s how it has always been. So, you have to keep on making the right connections with industry professionals and peers, in order to be part of a supportive network. You never know when someone you met in the past might suddenly think of you for a project or reach out to you for a collaborative venture.
Now, building the right relationships takes time and is something that you will need to do continuously throughout your career. There are several ways to go about it. First, you should seek out opportunities to join forces with people in your line of work. For instance, if you are a songwriter, seek out other songwriters and bands, who you can share creative juices with and bounce song ideas off from time to time. The same thing goes if you’re a singer, a music producer, or even looking to become an artist manager.
Another way to build good relationships is to go to music events, which often bring out music executives and other important stakeholders. There are tons of conventions, conferences, and meets and greets for everything from songwriting to audio production. Make time for a few events yearly and before you know it, your network could be quite large.
This goes back to having a passion for what you choose for your career. But to take it one step further, having a ‘sticktoitiveness’ mindset is what will get you through the dark days and help you to grow. Some of the disciplines in the music business can be very unpredictable, especially if you’re a music creator.
As you probably know, song lyricists and musicians often have to take on other jobs to supplement their earnings in the early parts of their careers due to low or no revenue coming in from their work initially. The good thing is, there are numerous ways that you can diversify your earnings in the music business.
For instance, you can become a blogger and share the knowledge you already know on music websites and blogs; you can do small gigs, such as playing or singing at weddings and birthday parties; you can do event planning, etc. The possibilities are endless and you will become more rounded and versatile for it.
Also, once you decide to stick it out no matter what, it becomes a little bit easier to overcome the challenges if they come around again. Not only that but people who know you and of your journey, and might be thinking of pursuing a similar career path, will likely see you as a source of inspiration.
As Aretha Franklin once said, “Music changes, and I’m gonna change right along with it,” so should you. The music business is ever-evolving and you’re never sure what’s going to happen next.
For example, about two decades ago, CDs were the dominant form of music consumption. Coming into the new millennium, downloading and then streaming gradually became popular. During this time, everyone thought vinyl was good as dead. However, since around 2008, vinyl records have resurfaced as a popular format once again and seem to be growing despite the continued explosion of streaming.
Over the years, there have also been changes in the way songs are written, how music is created, and even how musicians communicate with fans. These shifts, many of which have been of a technological nature, have left some people in the dust while others have adapted and have become even more successful.
Undoubtedly, there are many more changes on the horizon, which will affect your career. Finding success or remaining successful will be determined by whether you evolve with the changing of the times or become lost in it.
Whatever area you have your sights set on in the music business, you need to realize that finding ‘success’ has myriad meanings for different people. For some, it could be winding up in the headlines (for all the right reasons of course) and constantly being in the spotlight, while for someone else, it could just be achieving a certain level of financial comfort, or even reaching a particular social status. What this means is that you will have to figure out what success means to you before you can truly attain it.